by NICK ALVARADO//Sports Editor
In order to be at the top, you have to start at the bottom.
For Sheryl Swoopes, that saying would be applicable. The women’s basketball legend and former Lady Texan recently was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Swoopes still holds 10 records at SPC that include most career points and season points, career and season field goals, and career and season rebounding averages.
Swoopes played for the Lady Texans in 1989-1991. She then transferred to Texas Tech University, where she helped the Lady Raiders win the 1993 National Championship with Hall of Famer, Marsha Sharp, and assistant coach at the time, Roger Reding, who is now the athletic director for South Plains College.
At Texas Tech, Swoopes holds the single-game scoring record, after scoring 53 points against rival Texas back in 1993, tied for most field goals made with 18, field goals attempted with 31, free throws made and attempted, points scored in a season with 955, field goals made and attempted in a season, free throws made in a season and career free throw percentage.
When Swoopes first played for the Lady Texans, former coach Lyndon Hardin says that he knew she would be an impact player right away.
“She was good enough to be an impact player wherever she went,” Hardin said. “She signed with the University of Texas to begin with and wasn’t happy when she got there. We’re lucky enough to have her come back to South Plains. I saw her play when she was in high school. We recruited her hard, and hopefully, we would have a chance of getting her. I wasn’t going to go out on a limb and predict how great she was going to be, because there wasn’t a WNBA at the time we signed her.”
The Brownfield native moved on to the WNBA in 1997, playing with the Houston Comets for 10 seasons until the team folded in 2008. Swoopes was forced to move to Seattle to play for the Storm for the season. She would not return to the court until 2011, when she joined the Tulsa Shock for 33 games. Until then, no team had picked up Swoopes as a free agent.
Besides being a part of the WNBA inaugural season, Swoopes was a member of the U.S. National Women’s Basketball team during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Ga. She also competed in the World Championships in 1994, 2002 and 2006.
There have been a lot of firsts in Swoopes’ career. She was the first player to sign to the WNBA, the first women’s basketball player to have a signature shoe, the first three–time WNBA Most Valuable Player, the first player to record a triple-double in the WNBA, and the first player to win a NCAA title, a WNBA title and an Olympic gold medal in the respective career.
Swoopes was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sept. 9 in Houston, along with Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Yao Ming, Zelmo Beaty, Jerry Reinsdorf, Darell Garretson, current Michigan State head men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo and Cumberland Posey.
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